JEFFERSON COUNTY ILLINOIS
BIOGRAPHIES

JOHN STEWART BOGAN


An enumeration of the men who won honor and public recognition and added
to the reputation of the communities in which they acted their parts in
life would be incomplete without specific mention of the well remembered
citizen whose career is briefly reviewed in the following lines -a gentleman,
who, by the master strokes of strong mentality, backed by sheer force of
will, rose to an honorable position in Jefferson county and achieved more
than local prominence in the various lines of activity to which his energies
were devoted. John Stewart Bogan was a native of Shenandoah county, Virginia,
and the oldest of a family of twelve children, whose parents, Benjamin
and Sarah A. (Ott) Bogan, were also born in the Old Dominion state, the
father in Spottsylvania county, December 30, 1795, the mother in the town
of Woodstock on April 18th of the year 1801. The subject, whose birth occurred
in Woodstock on the 6th day of March, 1820, spent his early life in his
native town, but when a mere youth accompanied his parents on their removal
to Washington, D. C., where in due time he entered upon an apprenticeship
to learn the printer's trade. The office in which he laid the foundation
for his subsequent career as a journalist was conducted by Blair &
Reed, one of the old reliable publishing firms of the national capital,
the Washington Globe, which they issued, having long been one of the most
noted and influential political newspapers in the United States. Frank
P. Blair, one of the editors at that time, one of the strong and forceful
men in the field of journalism, subsequently became a prominent figure
in public affairs, serving with distinction as major-general during the
War of the Rebellion, and afterwards achieving an honorable record in the
National Congress, besides running for the Vice-Presidency on the ticket
with Horatio Seymour. During John S. Bogan's apprenticeship, he became
well acquainted with many of the distinguished men of the country and it
frequently fell to him to carry proof sheets to such public characters
as Henry Clay, General McComb, secretary of the treasury; Gen. Lewis Cass,
secretary of war; John Forsythe, secretary of state, and a number of others
who contributed articles to the Globe, and bore leading parts in the history
of the nation at that time. After completing his period of service and
becoming a proficient typo, Mr. Bogan took a case in the office of the
Globe and at the end of four years resigned his position on account of
ill health and about 1843 engaged in agricultural pursuits a few miles
from the Capital City. Thinking to better his condition in the West where
he was satisfied more favorable opportunities awaited young men with ambition
to rise in the world Mr. Began after a few years disposed of his interests
in Maryland and came to Jefferson county, Illinois, casting his lot among
the people at Grand Prairie, where he resumed farming and continued to
reside until 1851, when he gave up the pursuit of agriculture and moved
to Mount Vernon. Shortly after locating at the seat of justice, he established
the first newspaper ever published in Jefferson county, giving to the new
publication the appropriate name of "The Jeffersonian," and bringing to
the enterprise a practical experience which augured well for its success.
Under his able business and editorial management, the paper grew steadily,
if at first somewhat slowly in public favor, but during the succeeding
two years the circulation and advertising patronage were such as to put
the enter. prise on a paying basis, and it became a welcome visitor to
the ma. jority of homes in the county, and quite popular. 

Through the medium of the Jeffersonian Mr. Bogan soon became one of the influential party leaders of the county, the name of the paper indicating his political faith, and giving him prestige in local Democratic circles. In recognition of valuable political services, he was nominated in 1854 for the office of Clerk of the Circuit Court, and his triumphant election the same year and the able and faithful manner in which he conducted the office during his first term paved the way for subsequent re-nominations as is indicated by the fact that during the thirty-four years ensuing he was regularly re-elected to the position and held it with credit to himself and to the entire satisfaction of the public. Mr. Bogan's continuous retention in one of the most responsible offices within the gift of the people attests the high esteem in which he was held, regardless of party ties, the most signal instance of public confidence being afforded by the campaign of 1860, when his election lacked but three votes of being unanimous. On learning the result of this election his father, then living in Washington City, was so elated that he showed the returns to his warm personal and political friend Hon. Stephen A. Douglas, with the comment that, "His scrub boy in Illinois could make a much better race for his office than the popular 'Little Giant' could for the Presidency." Mr. Bogan proved an able and popular official and his long period of service during which his duty was ever worthily discharged, and his record above criticism, has few, if any parallels, in the history of the state. In addition to his official functions he took an active interest in other enterprises and put forth every effort at his command to promote the material prosperity of Mount Vernon and Jefferson county and the welfare of the people. 

On voluntarily retiring from the clerkship in 1888 he turned his attention to other lines of business and from that time until his lamented death he was a prominent and influential figure in the civic life of the community and a leader in public affairs. He assisted in establishing the Jefferson County Agricultural Society and for a period of thirty years served as its secretary and to him also belongs the credit of being one of the founders of the First Presbyterian church of Mount Vernon and an early member of the Lodge, No. 13, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, of the same city. He always looked after the interests of these organizations and contributed as much perhaps as any other man to their growth and success and as an humble and sincere Christian his everyday life beautifully exemplified the teachings of the great head of the church and induced many to abandon the ways of sin and seek the higher way which leads to happiness and peace. 

On September 20, 1842, in Montgomery county, Maryland, John S. Bogan and Louisa M. Brunet were united in the holy bonds of wedlock, the ceremony being solemnized by the Rev. John C. Smith, a distinguished Presbyterian divine of Washington City, and for several years a warm friend and trusted adviser of President Lincoln. This union, which proved almost ideally happy, resulted in the birth of eleven children, and was terminated by the hand of death several years after the devoted and beloved old couple had celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of their marriage. The names of the children born to them, all of whom are living, are as follows: Mrs. Sarah E. Goodale, Mrs. Mary C. Goodrich, Mrs. Anna L. Pace, W. V. Bogan and J. F. Bogan. 

Mr. Bogan departed this life February 19, 1900, and his death was the occasion of universal sorrow throughout Jefferson county, in all parts of which he was well known and highly esteemed. The following tribute to his worth as a man and citizen which appeared in the Mount Vernon News immediately after his demise is appropriate in this connection: 

"When Uncle Johnny Bogan breathed his last, one of nature's noblemen and one of Jefferson county's grand old men passed to his eternal reward. No man was better known and more highly respected by all classes and conditions of our people. He was a firm and steadfast friend, and is not known to have had an enemy in the world. He did not measure men by their standing in society or the official positions they occupied or the wealth of this world's goods they possessed, and while he numbered as his friends all in these circles with whom he had an acquaintance, he was the especial friend and champion of the poor and lowly, the down trodden and oppressed. No one of this class ever appealed to him in vain for sympathy or assistance. He made lots of money in his time but invariably divided to the last farthing with the needy and suffering, and died a comparatively poor man. The death of such a public 

benefactor is of course universally regretted. His whole life was devoted to making others happy. He lost sight of self and absolutely stinted himself that he might contribute to the relief of others." SOURCE: History of Jefferson County, IL By John A. Wall 1909 Submitted by: Misty Flannigan Oct 2002


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